Going back

I’ve got a lovely book that I dip in and out of by Mark Nepo. It’s called the one life we’re given and it’s a reflective book with questions at the end of each chapter to ponder.

I woke up slightly early yesterday morning and spent 15 minutes reading one of the chapters. I loved what it said and wanted to share it with you. It can be pretty much summed up as this:

At every point in our life when we take a brave step forward, we will often want to turn back at some stage. We’ll look back to who we were before – before we took the new job, before we decided to abstain from our unhealthy addition, before we decided to speak up more and be seen by other people – and we will want to go back to the ‘safe’ life we were living before. It doesn’t mean we should go back to this life, but it’s healthy to recognise that this is normal. This is part of life. 

I know this to be so true in my life and I thought I’d spend a few minutes reflecting on my experience with you, dear friend.

My experience can’t be summed up as a one incident, something that happened or a specific event. But it is, over the past 6 months, a revelation that eating to suppress my feelings will never do me good. It will never give me greater abilities to cope with what’s going on in my life. It will never grant me true peace.

All it can provide me with is momentary oblivion from my feelings and then a thud back to reality with an extra heaping of shame and the discomfort of having eaten too much.

But it still doesn’t stop me from having a sort of rosy-tinged reminiscence of the times that I could blank out my experiences. It was ‘easier’ to block out my feelings than to have to cope with them in the moment. It was less hassle to eat away hurt than confess to someone that I was feeling disappointed, angry or sad by something they had done. It was quicker to push down my anxiety with food than surrender to the anxiety in order for it to then be released.

But now I know that it is no good for me, I can’t unknow it. Now I see my relationship with food for exactly what it is, I can’t deny the truth.

And so I acknowledge that this fondness for the past is normal – I won’t judge myself from sometimes wanting to go back to my abusive, unhealthy relationship with food.

But I won’t turn back, instead I’ll keep moving forward.


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